Did you know that the Juneau Commission on Sustainability has determined that the average home in Juneau burns over 700 gallons of heating fuel (#2 diesel) annually, a volume that pumps nearly 8 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere? This important piece of information is one of many that the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund uses to calculate the cost of carbon in our region. In addition to heating oil, other challenging assumptions and calculation are also needed, everything from the determination of an individual’s carbon contribution on a flight to computing the carbon load from shipping freight up the inside passage. Weather, jet capacity, sea conditions, fuel efficiency, and an array of other factors all interact to complicate the calculations and there is no end to how one could drill down into the nitty gritty to make a precise determination of true carbon cost.
Like other carbon offset programs, the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund has had to make some assumptions. At the same time, we have scoured the great work of many researchers and carbon experts from government agencies, major airlines, to university climate specialists, for the most accurate numbers possible. We believe our calculation to be honest and accurate. Most importantly, we know that the cost of our carbon products align perfectly with the emissions savings of our carbon elimination program, meaning your purchase will directly remove the equivalent amount of carbon from the atmosphere. This is the most important aspect of carbon offsetting and carbon reduction programs.
There are two primary estimates we make in our carbon offset calculations: your carbon emissions and the cost of offsetting that emission.
Your carbon offset purchase for x pounds of carbon creation will prevent the production of x pounds of carbon by eliminating the burning of a corresponding quantity of heating oil. We offer you a true one-to-one offset solution.
Your carbon emissions: There is tremendous variation in the carbon you emit depending on the size and type of aircraft, ship, car, or home heating system used, not to mention weather and an array of other factors. Examples include an individual’s share of a flight’s carbon creation, a traveler’s share of the carbon emissions from a diesel jet boat whale watching excursion, or a home owner’s carbon output from home heating with an oil-burning stove. Like other carbon offset programs, the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund has had to make some assumptions based on expert studies in published reports. We believe our numbers to be honest and accurate.
The cost of our offsetting: This is based on the gallons of heating oil not burned once an air source heat pump is installed in the home and replaces an oil heat system. This is a forward-looking calculation that projects the annual average savings in carbon emissions across the number of years of estimated useful life of the heat pump. The average annual heating fuel (diesel #2) used by Juneau Carbon Offset Fund households to date is 500 gallons. When burned, a gallon of diesel creates 22.4 pounds of CO2 emissions.
Annual revenue for the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund is a mix of roughly 50% donations and grants and 50% targeted carbon offset purchases. We use donation monies and grant awards to ‘subsidize’ the cost of our carbon reduction projects. In essence, this reduces the cost of our projects to those seeking carbon footprint reduction assistance. At the end of the day, this fiscal balancing act reduces our carbon offset per pound cost from $0.03 to $0.015.
These values work together to derive a per pound cost for our carbon offset products of $0.015 / pound. In carbon credit terminology, our carbon cost is $33 for one carbon credit (1 ton of carbon).
Below are listed some of the data sources that we have used to generate our numbers. We realize there are many different studies and considerations to assist in determining the climate impacts of different activities so we’ll be reviewing and updating our assumptions about our product costs periodically.
- Data from the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems indicates that CO2 generated on an average commercial airliner averages 0.39 lbs / mile per person.
- Bright Hub Engineering offers a good deal of analysis of cruise ship fuel usage and gas mileage.
- The US Energy Information Administration Carbon Dioxide Emissions Coefficients spreadsheet offers detailed carbon dioxide emissions coefficients by fuel type.
- Helicopter fuel consumption is detailed at A-Star Specs and the US Energy Information Administration Carbon Dioxide Emissions Coefficients spreadsheet.
- Automobile fuel consumption and CO2 generation data from: Fuel Economy.gov.
- Studies by the Juneau Commission on Sustainability provide values for annual average heating fuel rates of consumption.
- The Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy provides local data on most if not all aspects of Juneau’s hydroelectric resources and the capital city’s adopted plan to power the city with 80% renewable energy by 2045.
- Trading Economics details the CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita) in the United States.